Okay, League of Legends fans, brace yourself because the competitive circuit going into Season 3 is quite a bit complicated. Nevertheless, it's worth reading up on, because it's rather incredible. We're talking about a 32 team online tournament, followed up by a 16 team live tournament, resulting in the 8 teams that will compete in the Season 3 Championship Series. That's a crazy amount of eSports, right? And it all starts today, when Riot soft resets the 5v5 ladder. Get your rune pages in order, it's go time.
Stage 1: 5v5 Ladder Qualification
Today, so long as Riot's tentative schedule holds up, marks the end of Season 2 and the beginning the pre-Season 3. This is marked by a "soft reset" of ELO, the statistic Riot uses to rank teams and players, evening out the playing field somewhat to create a new competitive environment. From here it's a race to reach the top 32 teams prior to the December 27 deadline. Doing so will qualify your 5v5 team for the next stage...
Stage 2: 32 Team Online Tournament
The top 32 teams in the 5v5 ladder at the end of December 27 will qualify for the Stage 2 online tournament, which takes place between January 4 and 6. Several rules apply to this selection process, which you can check out yourself, but needless to say Riot has its bases covered here. Each match of the tournament will be best-of-3, single elimination, with the top 6 teams moving on to the next stage...
Stage 3: 16 Team Live Tournament
Including the 6 teams who have advanced from the 32 team online tournament, the remaining 10 slots will be filled by teams that have pre-qualified through other events and upcoming tournaments yet to be detailed. The 16 team live tournament will follow a similar format to the 32 team online one, as in best-of-three matches with single elimination. The top 5 teams, four that make it to the semifinals and one that wins a 4-team round robin of quarterfinals losers, will win their participation in...
Stage 4: Season 3 Championship Series
The five teams that manage to climb through the ladder qualification, the 32 team online tournament, and the 16 team live tournament will join North American teams Team Solomid, Dignitas and CLG.NA in the Season 3 Championship Series. Hopefully we'll see some new blood, some fresh ideas in Riot's Season 3 league.
There you have it, the path to glory for 5-man teams in League of Legends. Two months of intense ladder climbing, followed by at least 5 sets of the most intense and important best-of-3 action in these players' careers. The result? A potential spot in what could be the biggest eSports league in history. League of Legends is taking it to another level, but the fun is only just beginning.
Update: The Season 2 ending patch has been delayed without a specific time frame, though we can likely expect it to be released either tomorrow or Thursday. Senior Game Designer "Yegg" made the following post on the official League of Legends forums:
Season Two is ending with the next patch, but since we’re still working on a couple issues, we won’t actually be patching tonight. This means that the season has been extended until the patch is ready to be released, and everyone has some additional time to qualify for rewards. However, note that on the night when the patch goes out, we’ll be shutting off ranked queues several hours earlier than usual.
As for rewards: Victorious Janna, summoner profile banner trims, and loading screen borders should be available as soon as the servers come back up. Summoner icons and forum badges will show up in the days following the patch.
Thanks for your patience and good luck in these final hours of the season!